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After making many low carb sugar free dessert recipes for years, one remains a fan favorite: Sex in a pan! With whipped layers of chocolate, cream, and shortbread, it’s a healthier take on a traditionally sugary recipe (and even works as a diabetic dessert) while keeping all the decadent taste. It’s similar to my sugar-free banana pudding, but with the deep flavor of keto chocolate mousse!
Why You’ll Love This Sugar Free Dessert Recipe
- Sweet chocolate and vanilla flavors
- Smooth and creamy with a nutty crust
- Simple ingredients with no white sugar, confectioner’s sugar, or processed foods
- Easy to make ahead or freeze
- Guilt-free, keto-friendly, gluten-free, and sugar free low carb dessert (under 5g net carbs per piece)
- Perfect sweet treat for Valentine’s Day and other special occasions
The key to healthier sugar free desserts is all in the ingredients… That’s why this one replaces traditional white flour and sugar with Wholesome Yum Almond Flour and Besti Powdered Monk Fruit Allulose Blend. This flour has the finest grind of any nut flour I’ve tried so it presses seamlessly into the other crust ingredients, while the sweetener dissolves effortlessly and tastes exactly like powdered sugar.
I dare you to make recipes for sugar free desserts with these ingredients — you won’t know the difference from the real thing!
What Is Sex in a Pan?
A sex in a pan dessert recipe typically contains layers of instant chocolate pudding, instant vanilla pudding, sweetened cream cheese, whipped cream or cool whip, and a crunchy pecan bottom crust. It became popular in the 70s — and for that reason, you might also know it as “Robert Redford dessert”!
Since I love a challenge, I made a healthier version of the classic sex in a pan dessert recipe and transformed it into one of the best no sugar desserts, without sacrificing the sinfully delicious taste and texture. You can call it a “chocolate layer dessert” if the name makes you squeamish! 🙂
Ingredients & Substitutions
This section explains how to choose the best ingredients for sugar free sex in a pan, what each one does in the recipe, and substitution options. For measurements, see the recipe card below.
- Wholesome Yum Almond Flour – Unlike other almond flours, this one has the finest grind for the best taste and texture in your baked goods. Don’t substitute coconut flour here, as it will be too dry, but if you need a nut-free option, use my coconut flour pie crust dough instead.
- Pecan Meal – Made only with pecans. You can also grind your own pecans in a food processor, or just use additional almond flour instead.
- Besti Powdered Monk Fruit Allulose Blend – This powdered sugar replacement is perfect for diabetic dessert recipes, because it has zero net carbs (i.e. won’t spike blood sugar levels) and tastes just like sugar. You can also use regular Besti sweetener for the crust, but I used powdered to cut down on the total number of ingredients you need.
- Unsalted Butter – Measure solid, then melt. Coconut oil would also work as a substitute.
Cream Cheese Layer:
- Heavy Cream – Choose full-fat heavy cream for the best whipping. Coconut cream (or the cream scooped from the top of a chilled can of coconut milk) would probably work as well.
- Besti Powdered Monk Fruit Allulose Blend – For this layer (as well as the chocolate and whipped cream layers below), an allulose-based sweetener like Besti is particularly important to avoid a gritty texture. This is true for any sugar free dessert that needs a smooth texture. Erythritol, as well as most brands of stevia or monk fruit sweetener (which typically include erythritol in the ingredient list), won’t dissolve fully.
- Vanilla Extract – Use a high-quality one for best flavor.
- Cream Cheese – Choose full-fat cream cheese and let it come to room temperature for smoother blending. A dairy-free cream cheese alternative should work fine here if needed.
- Cocoa Powder – Use the best quality one you can find to make your low sugar dessert recipes just as rich as the originals. Make sure to get unsweetened cocoa powder to avoid added sugar.
- Heavy Cream
- Besti Powdered Monk Fruit Allulose Blend – It’s my favorite sugar substitute for this recipe, but you can check my sweeteners conversion chart if you want to use a different one. Make sure sweeter is powdered for the smoothest results.
- Vanilla Extract
VARIATION: Make a pudding layer instead.
Traditionally, sex in a pan is a pudding dessert, which is usually the chocolate layer. My older version of this sex in a pan cake recipe required making chocolate pudding using xanthan gum (a cornstarch substitute I often use in my recipes for sugar-free desserts), and waiting hours for it to set. Some people reported issues with the pudding setting, and the xanthan gum was less readily available for many, so I made it more simple with chocolate whipped cream instead (which are the ingredients above).
However, if you still want to make this sugar free dessert with a pudding layer, you can find it in the recipe card below.
You can also make this sugar-free chocolate pudding instead for the chocolate layer, which I like better than the original version.
Whipped Cream Layer:
- Heavy Cream
- Besti Powdered Monk Fruit Allulose Blend
- Vanilla Extract
- Sugar-Free Dark Chocolate – Make grated chocolate curls as a garnish with a vegetable peeler or box grater. You could also simply top with sugar-free chocolate chips instead.
How To Make This Sugar Free Dessert
This section shows how to make sugar free sex in a pan dessert, with step-by-step photos and details about the technique, to help you visualize it. For full instructions, including amounts and temperatures, see the recipe card below.
- Prep. In a large mixing bowl, mix together the almond flour, pecan meal, and powdered Besti. Add melted butter and stir until a crumbly mixture forms.
- Bake. Press crust evenly into a lined medium baking dish (this one is the perfect size) and bake until golden and firm. Let the crust cool completely.
Cream Cheese Layer:
- Beat. While crust bakes, use a hand mixer to beat cream, vanilla, and powdered Besti until stiff peaks form. Gradually add softened cream cheese, beating in between, until well combined.
- Spread. After the crust cools, spread the cream cheese layer over the cooled pecan crust.
- Beat. Whip heavy cream, powdered Besti, and vanilla together until stiff peaks form. Gradually beat in cocoa powder.
- Spread. Transfer the mixture to the pan and spread over the cream cheese layer of the sugar free dessert.
Whipped Cream Layer:
- Whip. With a hand mixer, beat the cream, powdered Besti, and vanilla until stiff peaks form.
- Spread. Transfer whipped cream to the pan and spread over the chocolate layer.
- Add topping. Sprinkle chocolate shavings on top.
- Chill. Refrigerate the diabetic dessert until set, before slicing.
Tips For Serving The Best Sugar Free Dessert
The only problem with sugar free dessert recipes like this one is that they can be a little challenging to remove from the pan. Follow these tips:
- Line the baking dish with parchment. This makes the entire dessert easier to remove.
- Cut carefully. For clean cut slices or squares pieces, cut in a downward motion (no dragging or see-sawing). Use a thin silicone cookie spatula like this one to lift the piece out of the pan. Wipe the spatula clean between slicing. The first piece won’t be pretty, but it gets easier after that.
- Try it frozen. Sex in a pan can be frozen and served as a frozen dessert after about 10-20 minutes of thawing. This will make it easier to remove cleanly. Bonus: Serving it frozen also makes it great for summer.
- Add toppings. In addition to the chocolate shavings, you can also sprinkle on chopped keto nuts, or drizzle with sugar-free caramel syrup or sugar-free chocolate syrup.
- Store: Wrap leftover sugar free dessert recipes with plastic wrap and keep in the refrigerator up to 4 days.
- Meal prep: Make up to 2 days in advance and keep refrigerated until ready to serve.
- Freeze: Cut the dessert into portions and place on a parchment lined sheet pan, with space between the pieces. Freeze until solid. Remove, wrap portions tightly with plastic wrap, and keep them in the freezer up to 2 months. Serve these diabetic desserts frozen, or allow to thaw before slicing and serving. (You can also cover the entire pan with plastic and freeze whole.)
More Sugar Free Dessert Recipes
I have dozens of easy low carb dessert recipes that keep every bite deliciously sweet. Try these ones next!
Tools To Make Sugar Free Desserts
- Baking Dish – The one I use for dozens of diabetic friendly desserts, including this one. You can use this 10.5×7.5-inch size, or 9×9 would also work.
- Hand Mixer – Makes quick work out of mixing layers for this dessert. Get one at Amazon or Target.
- Silicone Cookie Spatula – The best tool for serving sugar free desserts that can fall apart easily. Available at Amazon or Target.
Sugar Free Dessert: Sex in a Pan
Sugar Free Dessert: Sex In A Pan
Sex in a pan is the perfect sugar free dessert recipe for diabetics, keto followers, or anyone reducing sugar. Sweet, creamy, & chocolaty!
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Tap underlined ingredients to see where to get them. Please turn Safari reader mode OFF to view ingredients.
Cream Cheese Layer
Chocolate Layer – Option 1 (Old Version, Optional)
Chocolate Layer – Option 2 (New Version)
Whipped Cream Layer
Tap on the times in the instructions below to start a kitchen timer while you cook.
In a large bowl, stir together almond flour, pecan meal, and Besti powdered. Stir in melted butter until a crumbly dough forms. Press evenly into the lined baking dish.
Bake for 12-15 minutes, until golden and firm. Set aside to cool.
Cream Cheese Layer
While the crust is baking, make the cream cheese layer. Use a hand mixer to beat the cream, vanilla extract, and Besti powdered together, until stiff peaks form. Gradually beat in the softened cream cheese, a bit at a time, until well combined.
Once the crust has cooled, spread the cream cheese mixture evenly over it with a silicone spatula.
Chocolate Layer – Option 1 (old version, like pudding)
While the crust is cooling, make the chocolate pudding layer. In a medium saucepan, combine the heavy cream, almond milk, sugar-free dark chocolate, butter, and Besti powdered. Cook over medium-low to low heat, stirring frequently, until the chocolate is melted and sweetener dissolves (about 5-10 minutes). Be careful not to get the heat too high to avoid burning the chocolate.
Gradually sprinkle the xanthan gum into the saucepan a little at a time (don’t just dump it in) and immediately whisk to incorporate. Continue to heat for about 5 minutes, whisking constantly. Remove from heat, then whisk in the vanilla extract.
Cool the chocolate pudding for 15 minutes (it will thicken, but still be liquid). You can add more xanthan gum if needed, but don’t add too much or it will get slimy. Stir/whisk again after cooling, then pour it over the cream cheese layer.
Cover with plastic wrap, making sure it’s directly against the surface to prevent a film forming. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
Chocolate Layer – Option 2 (new version, faster)
While the crust is cooling, make the chocolate layer. Beat the heavy cream, Besti powdered, and vanilla until stiff peaks form. Beat in cocoa powder gradually.
Spread the chocolate whipped cream over the cream cheese layer.
Whipped Cream Layer
Use a hand mixer to beat the cream, vanilla extract, and Besti powdered together, until stiff peaks form.
Spread the whipped cream over the chocolate layer. Sprinkle chocolate shavings on top.
Refrigerate for 1-2 more hours (or as long as needed until serving) to fully set.
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Serving size: 1/16 of the entire pan
Update: The old version of the chocolate pudding layer is back by popular demand! I’ve posted both options above, so you can decide which one you want. The older version takes longer and sometimes people have issues with thickening, but tastes more like pudding when you get it right. The newer version is faster but more like a chocolate whipped cream layer.
Video note: The video above shows how to make this sugar free dessert using the newer version of the chocolate layer.
Nutrition facts are provided as a courtesy. Have questions about calculations or why you got a different result? Please see our nutrition policy.
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